Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

James Henry Crummer

Magistrate at Newcastle and Maitland

James Henry Crummer was born on 31 October 1792 at Athlone, Ireland, the son of Samuel Crummer, of Birr.

He was 35 years of age when he married Katrina Plessos in February 1827. James Henry and Katrina with their three children arrived in New South Wales on the convict ship England in September 1835.

Newcastle and Maitland

James Crummer was Magistrate at Newcastle in the years 1837 - 1849. He probably spent many hours in the Newcastle Court-house situated at the corner of Hunter and Bolton Streets and also at the old Newcastle Gaol. Following this he spent nine years at Maitland where he was Magistrate and Superintendent of the Immigrant depot until 1858.


He died at Port Macquarie in 1867.


His obituary was published in the Newcastle Chronicle and later re-printed in the Newcastle Morning Herald:

On December 29 1867, there passed away a familiar figure to the Newcastle and Maitland public in the person of Major Crummer, who for many years occupied the position of Police Magistrate in this city. He was one of the old school who saw much active service prior to his arrival in Australia and had a distinguished career as a soldier.

Joining the 28th regiment as an ensign in 1805 when barely 14 years old, he was promoted to a lieutenancy in 1807 and during the same year served with the regiment of the siege and capture of Copenhagen. In June 1809 he entered upon the Peninsular campaign and remained on active service until the close of the war in 1814, being personally engaged with his regiment at the battles of Buenco and Campo Mayor and the first seize of Badajog., was severely wounded at Albuera, but fortunately recovered and was present at the battles of Vittoria, Pyrenees, Bayonne, Nivelle, Nive, Orthley, Aire, Lamboge, Tarbes, and Toulouse, being again severely wounded at the battle of Pyrenees. He was commended for important services in carrying despatches between Marshal Beresford and Sir Lowry Cole on the eve of the battle of Albuera by which the Fusilier Brigade was brought up in time to take part in that action. Returning home in July 1814, he sailed again with his regiment for Ostend on May 18 1815 and reaching Brussels on the 26th was closely engaged with the enemy at Quatre Bras, where he was again wounded on the 16th of the following month. Two days later he took part in the battle of Waterloo where the 28th suffered so heavily that at the close of the day they could only muster four companies. When the army advanced on Paris Major Crummer went with it and remained with the army of occupation until October 1815. Two years later his regiment was quartered at the Ionian Isles in the Mediterranean, where they remained until 1829.

From 1822 until 1827 Major Crummer occupied the position of commandant of the Island of Calamos and protector of Greek refugees during the War of Independence against the Turks. It was while at this station he married Katrina Plessos, a Greek lady of good family.

From Calmos Major Crummer went back to Ireland and engaged in military duties during the disturbances in the west of Ireland. He arrived in NSW in 1835 was promoted to his majority in 1836 and sold out on the regiment being ordered to India.

In 1837 he was appointed superintendent of convicts and police magistrate at Newcastle retaining the office until 1849 the last six years being served without pay. From Newcastle he went to West Maitland where he was police magistrate until 1858 in which year he was transferred to Port Macquarie.

In 1864 the Imperial Government superannuated him, after an Imperial and colonial service of 59 years. He died at Port Macquarie on December 29 1867 and was buried with military honours a party of eight warders (all old Crimean or Indian veterans) escorting the body to the grave and firing three volleys over the last resting place of the fine old soldier
. [1]

Albeura Injury

Writing of this Regiment, Lieut-Col. Cadell states 'that at Albuera Lieut Crummer was badly wounded in the left leg, and would not apply for a pension, to which he was entitled at the time, nor was he absent from the corps for a single day except while under cure during all their subsequent services abroad. He adds: 'in 1833 his wounds broke out afresh. On recovery, he applied for the usual pension, but in consequence of the time he had allowed to elapse, the case could not be taken into consideration. I do not think there is another leg in the United Kingdom without a pension'. And again he states : 'That during 10 months' fighting from 21st June 1813 to 10th April 1814 we had in killed and wounded 43 officers, 27 sergeants, 3 drummers and 731 rank and file, returning home in July 1814. [2]

Notes and Links

1). Select here to find the names of convicts assigned to Major Crummer, more about his duties as Magistrate and other civil appointments and the names of their children who died at Newcastle and were buried at Christ Church burial ground.

2). Museum of Freemasonry

3). Decisions of the Superior Court of NSW - R v. Smith 1837 - Burglary of Major Crummer at Newcastle

4). Duties as Magistrate - miner charged for refusing to work in the mine 1838

5). James Crummer resided in Watt Street Newcastle in 1841

6). Katherine Crummer (nee Aikaterini Georgia Plessos) probably taken in Sydney, late nineteenth century. Katherine is the earliest known Greek woman to settle permanently in Australia and the first free Greek settler. - Greek Community of Melbourne

7). Photograph of Grave stone of James Henry Crummer - Port Macquarie Cemetery

8). Medal, 'Waterloo', military with bar, awarded to Captain J H Crummer, with unofficial bar for Peninsula service and action at Quatre Bras, silver, Great Britain, 1815 - Power House Museum


[1]. Newcastle Morning Herald 2 May 1903

[2]. Maitland Daily Mercury 17 January 1921